Saturday, September 23, 2017

The permanent mask of method acting

Method acting results in the permenat alteration of ones chacracter. I'm acient greek times, actors wore masks to impersonate different roles. In today's demanding world, actors must take the extra step to achieve the perfect role, method acting purring yourself in the shoes of your character, doing what they do and preform the same actions.. for example Johnny drop took the oath of method acting for his role in fear and loathing in mad vegas, he took copious amounts of acid and other drugs that permanently changejng his mine, thus cementing his characters mask onto his life.

Aristotle Thought Women Have Fewer Teeth Than Men

So as we mentioned in our presentation yesterday…Aristotle was pretty sexist.  And by that, I mean extremely sexist.  (He was, like, wayyy worse than Plato.)  It wasn't JUST that he thought women have fewer teeth than men.  And yes, I understand that he lived in the 300s BC, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t sexist.  If he could go on to become one of the most influential figures of Greek philosophy, he could get it through his skull that women aren’t actually inferior to men.  He challenged and formed so many notions of his time period that I don’t see why it would have been so difficult for him to understand such a basic concept.  I mean, he had not one, but TWO wives!  How was he so thick that he had no inkling of the capacity of an entire gender?

Luckily enough for women, though, Aristotle did say women were higher than slaves!  Thanks, Aristotle!  I just LOVE this quote from one of the most renowned thinkers of history: "The slave is wholly lacking the deliberative element; the female has it but it lacks authority; the child has it but it is incomplete.”  Great, glad to know he undermined not just women but also people whose freedom had been cruelly stripped from them.

So he also thought that women were deformed men.  Umm.  Did Aristotle ever looked in a mirror, or any sort of reflective surface?  Based on depictions of him, it’s not like he was that attractive either! 

Now, some modern scholars claim that Aristotle’s ridiculous and contradictory views on women and slaves were really meant to be some sort of sneaky attack on society’s views of these groups of people.  I think that’s giving too much credit to him.  If Aristotle was ambitious enough to explore intellectual pursuits to the point that he is still widely regarded as one of the most intellectual men in history…he could have plucked up the courage to say something about the unfair views on women and slaves.  Or, at the very least, he could have kept his mouth shut if he was going to be so ignorant.  I know, that’s kind of harsh to say; but I think Aristotle deserves harsh criticism for his views.  Like, thanks a lot, Aristotle, for influencing Western culture to think women are inferior!!!  Did you guys know that his astonishingly unenlightened ideas about women were quoted until the end of the Middle Ages?  And those views still permeate our society today, which is just plain sad.  So, again, thanks a LOT, Aristotle!

Still, we should all be understanding of Aristotle’s position, and should try to read him in his context.

Just kidding.  Maybe I could forgive Aristotle if he was just some run-of-the-mill guy with limited intellectual and creative thought, but he wasn’t.  And sure, he was a brilliant philosopher, but so what?  He still needs to be held accountable for his backwards views on slaves and women, views that later influenced Western thought and contributed to the societal oppression women experienced and in many areas still experience today.  Here’s the truth: Aristotle was a misogynist.  Change always comes from somewhere, someone has to be the first to speak out, and someone always has to be at the vanguard; and that’s why I don’t think we should excuse Aristotle just because he lived way back when.

Young, bald and talented

I find it disconcerting that not much is known about Aristophanes. There’s the saying, “a picture can tell a thousand words”…well, books and plays are entirely made up of words and Aristophanes’ texts are open for interpretation. Some have surmised that based on comments made by the Chorus in The Clouds (bird god) that Aristophanes might have been 18 years old during the production of his first play The Banqueters. And it has also been inferred from statements made in The Clouds and Peace, another one of his plays, that Aristophanes went prematurely bald. I’m gonna have to check these plays out and pinpoint where exactly one might make such inferences. 

Weird Analogies

"These impossible women! How they do get around us! The poet was right: Can’t live with them, can't live without them." - Aristophanes

The internet is not always the most reliable source of information, but I would like to think that Aristophanes really did say as much (most likely in his play Lysistrata). This quote is applicable to both our summer reading books especially The Unbearable Lightness of Being where Tereza and Sabina, two particularly complex women, transformed the lives of both Tomas and Franz. Tomas was always torn between loving Tereza and having sex with other women and it is only towards the end of the novel that he gives up his liaisons to live in peace with Tereza in the country; Franz could not physically keep Sabina in his life but he held on to her memory and imagined her watching him assert his newfound independence (bye, Marie-Claude). 

Regarding One Hundred Years of Solitude, I think of this quote in relation to the crazy patriarch José Arcadio Buendía (at least in the early stages of Macondo’s development). While Aristophanes’ quote is about women, in One Hundred Years of Solitude some men were daydreaming while women were getting stuff done :P José Arcadio Buendía founded Macondo with Ursula and took care of his people and the construction of the village in the beginning; Macondo would not exist without him. But when José Arcadio Buendía gradually started to go insane, Macondo gradually modernized (mostly for the worst). He was tied to a tree because his famiily couldn’t live with him but they couldn’t live without him. This analogy is really WEIRD and not entirely logical, but just go with it.

Similarities between Ancient Playwrights and Social Media

Seemingly every week we have a post about social media; I suppose because it plays such an important role in our lives. To me when the group about Greek plays was presenting in class on Friday it was interesting how each new playwright brought something new to the play to improve it, and many others adopted this way. Thespis added an actor to go along with the chorus, so after many of his contemporaries added an actor. Then Aeschylus added a second actor to improve plays in his opinion. Then Sophocles added a third actor, which Aeschylus soon adopted. This concept of each playwright adding their own feature to the play and making it their own reminded me of the various social media platforms. Facebook allowed you to post pictures or messages to all of your friends. Then Instagram arrives which focuses on posting pictures and being able to like and comment on them, branching off from Facebook's original idea. Snapchat, the most recent social media platform focuses on posting videos or photos for a short limited period of time. It was widely successful so many of its contemporaries adopted this feature, such as Instagram. Both allow you to use stickers and filters on your photos or videos and post them for a short period of time. Each platform while specializing in certain aspects borrows the best features of others and improves on them. Each seemingly perfecting their craft. This same concept can be seen in Ancient Greece and also on social media today.

Dionysus' Fangirls: Ancient G(r)eek Culture

This week we talked about Ancient Greek drama and culture, including the role of Dionysus in early forms of drama.  This discussion made me think of the bacchantes, women who worshipped Bacchus (Dionysus’ Roman counterpart) and went into states of frenzy, dancing around as they were possessed by the god.  They were basically super extreme versions of fangirls, hence the title of this post.  We read about these women in the Aeneid last year for Latin class because a prominent character, Queen Dido, was compared to a bacchante as she raged through the city searching for the eponymous character Aeneas.  Apparently these women would whirl around, scream, and engage in acts of unbelievable strength such as tearing apart bulls and eating them raw.  (I know, pretty disturbing.)  In fact, there’s a name for pulling apart bulls—sparagmos. 

A couple myths exist about these strange people.  Supposedly Dionysus went to Thebes and his family refused to believe that he was a god, so he made his aunt go crazy, and she killed her son.  Then he went somewhere else and the king’s daughters wouldn’t worship him, so he made them go crazy, too, and they also killed their children.  Actually, Euripides (we talked about him in class) wrote a tragedy called The Bacchae centered around the first story I just briefly described (the one about Thebes).  If you want to read more: http://www.ancient-literature.com/greece_euripides_bacchae.html.  The tragedy got first place at the Dionysia, which would have been really exciting for Euripides, but sadly he was dead by that point in time…

Greek Modes and Emotions

The Ancient Greeks were very interested in music and music theory. A significant part of a treatise by Aristoxenus called On Harmonics that explains many major parts of Greek music has survived, so a lot is known about the Greek musical tradition. Unfortunately, there are less actual examples of Greek music that are preserved, with only about 45 hymns and compositions, and the earliest dating from probably the 1st century AD, surviving today.

One interesting thing about Greek music theory that I read about was their view on modes. For those without much music theory background, modes refer to different scales formed by starting on a different note from the typical major scale. So, for example, to play C Dorian mode, you play the notes of C Major scale but start and end on the D note. The two most frequently used keys in modern Western music are major and minor, both of which are modes (the Ionian and a sometimes modified Aeolian modes respectively). There are 7 modes starting on the 7 notes in a major key: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, and Locrian. The names are all Greek sounding because the Greeks came up with this modal system. Music based on just the major and minor keys became dominant after the Middle Ages, but modal music has remained very influential to all music, especially with more modern music such as jazz or even genres like heavy metal using modes to make music. Modes besides the typical Ionian and Aeolian sound somewhat different or foreign to someone raised on Western music, so modes are often used because of this effect.

The Greeks had some interesting ideas about the modes; most notably, Plato discusses them in The Republic. Plato saw music as an important part of education, but Plato, and presumably many Greeks, assigned different feelings and emotions to different modes. In particular, he said that music composed in the Dorian and Phrygian modes should be the only kind listened to by philosophers in their education. In The Republic, Plato claims Dorian would "fittingly imitate the utterances and accents of a brave man who is engaged in warfare," and Phrygian is good "for a man engaged in works of peace." These conclusions about the characteristics of different modes were probably mostly based on cultural context as it's kind of unconvincing to say Dorian is inherently warlike, but these ideas about musical modes are pretty interesting. To the modern ear, modes to have distinct sounds as we react to how they differ from typical Major and Minor scales (For example as shown in the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hyOlYfIxIM, Locrian can sound particularly ugly/jarring since it's centered on the Major scales leading tone). So according to Plato, if you want to get pumped up, listen to some nice Dorian music.